TC001: For the ’71 sessions Robyn took delivery of the second Vogue Songmaster ever built, a synthesizer she wore like an electric guitar with great live performance dynamics. Robyn played the keyboard with her right hand and bent the notes with her left along the neck strip. With the Songmaster she learned to do a passable imitation of the hammer-on and pull-off technique of a guitar trill. Tabaet was sufficiently impressed to put her Gibson in storage and bounce back to playing sax.
TC002: Robyn laid down the vocal and keyboard tracks at the Crossroads and the rest of Hunky-Dory came into the studio after to record layer after layer within a framework of a punchy thirty-six minutes of music. They titled it Impotent America Entranced.
In Dubbed Leftist By the Righteous, Dory started with a gentle bass line accompanied by Robyn on electric piano before the song suddenly transformed into a rocker clocking in at four minutes. Dory’s lyrics poked at Nixon’s “Square America”.
TC003: Dubbed Leftist was a backward-masking electric boogie shuffle intended as a red flag for holy rollers, subversive as hell, a call to revolt for anyone who actually listened to the lyrics, but audiences seemed to love instead the novelty of the very first synth pop song in history.
The driving beat and anthemic melody of the instrumental first third of You Are Here was licensed for the opening credits of a short-lived (single season) television show about fashion models called Runway.
TC004: The second part of the song was the group trying its hand at a little twelve-bar blues with Robyn doing her impression of a sultry 1940’s torch song diva that she had done on every Hunky-Dory platter going back to the 1940s.
Then Hunky started pounding her drums at 132 beats per minute while Robyn laid down a crystal electronic sheen and made some rather sensuous sounds which weren’t even words, exactly. A lot of horny teen-aged boys bought the record just for You Are Here part III.
TC005: When listeners flipped the vinyl over they heard the album’s biggest hit, Thumper Bait, a more-or-less conventional three minute rocker about fleshly temptation that got heavy rotation on radio stations everywhere but in the Bible Belt. Thumper Bait didn’t actually name names, but enough preachers saw a jackboot that fit and wore it. Sales lost by the lack of airplay were more than made up for by sales to the faithful eager to burn the albums after church. Hunky-Dory couldn’t lose.
TC006: On Responsibility Boundaries Robyn brutally put down bystanders who are willing to watch a rape in broad daylight but are unwilling to try to stop it, as though it were all being done for their amusement. The song seemed to touch a nerve.
Chunk Tide was an understated instrumental raga, the musical accompaniment for an oil spill oozing up on the shore of a pristine beach. Some fans called it filler but it was a moody sonic slab that balanced the intensity of the rest of the album.
TC007: Drug Century closed things out with a seeming paradox, a pro-legalization tirade about the misery of drug dependency, capping the band’s breaking of as many taboos, traditions, and policies as was possible in thirty-six minutes. Impotent America Entranced never sold less than two or three hundred units per week and provided a steady income from royalties no one sneezed at. This was the final lustrum and the band knew it, so they extended the Entranced tour into the early months of ’72.
TC008: Tabaet got past the halfhearted pat down at the box office without being stopped, but she neglected to wrap the tape carefully around her ankle, and a bottle of brandy slid down the inside of her pants leg and shattered on the blacktop.
Robyn didn’t break her stride or even look back. “You brought that in here?” she gasped with mock indignation. That brought knowing chuckles to some of the others walking on the long, crowded, landscaped path leading to the Harvey Downs Amphitheater.
TC009: Tabaet shrugged it off. “Do you think you can play okay knowing Tolson’s gonna to crash the party?
“Sure,” Robyn replied. “Seeing our old pal Clyde will just add an angry edge to our performance. But we have to get to the stage the same way Hunky did.” So they passed from the backstage area to general parking by a roundabout way that avoided COINTELPRO and the local police presence that was already piling up. They packed tickets to their own show and fell in with the throng of fans.
TC010: As they picked their way to their seats the rhythm section of the band was busy warming up, with Hunky beating out a long drum solo and Doriel fingering some live improvisation on bass. The gimmick of Hunky-Dory was an ironic bad-girl mystique, with the irony highlighted by white “halos” three of the girls always wore.
But Tabaet had, instead, two black devil horns, which made a kind of sense. She broadcasted sex to both men and women on a molecular level like a human radio station.
TC011: The band encouraged rumors the lead singer and drummer were wanted by the authorities, which was very much the actual case. Tabaet brought Robyn’s attention to the heavy law enforcement presence around the stage. They formed a gauntlet to intercept the mystery woman before she appeared. They had already let Hunky slip through and that was why they were crowding the stage now, hoping to snag her and Robyn in one fell swoop and also bag Dory and Tabaet for associating with known fugitives.
TC012: Robyn and Tabaet were already running a bit late. The heavies lurking around the stage added to the crowd’s feeling of anticipation. Suddenly, by some unspoken cue, part of the crowd rushed down to fill up scattered empty seats in the first few rows. Tabaet and Robyn dove over the newly vacated seats to join them. With a few bumps and bruises they pushed their way to the front row. After a nod from Dory to a group of bouncers her lead singer and sax player were hoisted up onto the stage.
TC013: Hunky improvised her rhythms and fills in, around and under Dory’s precisely metered bass lines. This inversion gave Hunky-Dory a very unusual but organic sound. In a reversal of convention Dory kept almost robotic time on bass while Hunky’s drumming added the human element of subtle randomness. Meanwhile Tabaet and Robyn ranged over the stage with their flashy legwork as the roar and whistling of the crowd rose to a deafening level. The band was gearing up to open with Pandemonium.
TC014: Police and FBI agents swarmed the stage from its perimeter on a prearranged signal. Clyde Tolson moved close enough that Tabaet could hear him shout orders over the noise.
Robyn decided to appeal to her fans. “Hey folks, it looks like the cops don’t want us to play for you tonight!” The crowd expressed their great displeasure by throwing their own smuggled bottles at the stage and pushing the security guys back. Some of them wedged between the bouncers and clambered up onto the stage.
TC015: A riot was just a hair’s-breadth away and Clyde Tolson knew it. He made a chopping motion with his hand. The men unhanded the girls and returned to their positions just off-stage. They knew they could afford to wait. The crowd grew happy again, thrilled by the full-participation theater Hunky-Dory was putting on.
Tabaet wasn’t sure how long they’d get to play before Clyde moved again but Robyn knew something. She told the band to play No Love Lost, the biggest hit from Suicide Club.
“Date her, mate her, take good notes and rate her you hypocrite! But you don’t know there’s no love lost! Booze her, use her, try your best to lose her, cruise holy writ for a reason why there’s no love lost! Your goody-good book Bible baptist bitches are gonna know this time! Eve was framed by Adam but blaming the victim won’t fly this time! Jump her, pump her, then go ahead and dump her, tell yourself it’s to save her soul, there’s no…”
That was when the shots began to ring out.
TC017: A bullet struck Robyn’s right leg. She marveled at the pain that was headed her way in about two seconds, so she cashed in one of the benefits of the Change and volunteered for a temporary coma.
Tabaet and Dory dived into the crowd in front of the stage and slunk away in the gathering chaos.
Hunky had to extricate herself from behind the drum kit. That gave time for the police to hem her in. Everyone who merely touched her backed away screaming with a broken arm and a jammed pistol.
TC018: Hunky avoided the Hunky-Dory caravan, now crawling with cops, and made for the Airstream that brought Tabaet and Robyn to the venue. It would take an hour just to get out of General Parking. Cops were slowing the vehicles as they left and checking inside with flashlights. When it was her turn Tabaet plowed right through the checkpoint and out onto the highway. The plates were radioed ahead but they weren’t the only vehicle of interest. That’s how it was with drugs and parole violations.
TC019: “Nineteen forty-seven.”
Those were the first words Robyn heard upon regaining consciousness. Her sight focused on her once and present captor Clyde Tolson seated across the room where she lay. Her left leg was elevated. Her right ankle was cuffed to a rail of her bed and her left wrist was cuffed to another rail.
Tolson continued. “Twenty-five years! That’s how long since I had my hands on one of you. Your husband had a bullet in his leg also, but I had nothing to do with that.”
TC020: “You may not have shot hem, Clyde, but going by the last time you had your clutches on me it’s certain you bored hem to death.”
“But I learned something, Kimberly. I know there’s no point in asking questions you don’t want to answer. Gabriel’s death I put down to shock, but watching Ian remove the bullet from you without anesthetic really drove the point home. I suppose it’s a side effect of the changes. And you still look so young!”
“Thanks! I suppose that’s another side effect.”
TC021: “And letting your twin sister die to throw me off your track? That was ice-cold, Kimberly.”
“Do you really think that’s what happened?”
“Nothing else makes any sense.”
“Well, Clyde, I don’t blame you for the bullet, I know you wouldn’t risk losing me when you had me in your grasp after all these years. I guess that was one of the DC cops. And it was very kind of you to have Doc Troch patch me up. So, out of gratitude, while I’m stuck here I’ll answer exactly one of your questions.”
TC022: “How does the change pass from person to person?”
Robyn held up a pinky. “Three ways. First is you’re born with it. We call those the Begotten. Gabriel was Begotten.” Her ring finger came up. “The second way is when the Begotten have sexual relations with someone. Male or female, it doesn’t matter. We call those the Made. I’m Made. But if you think you can just send some asshole in here to rape me and he’ll be Made, you’re mistaken. The Made can’t Make anybody, only the Begotten can.”
TC023: “You mentioned three ways.”
“Well, there’s the classic way that got the whole thing started. Only Michael and Shemhazai and Yeshua ever did it. Telling you how won’t be any help, but I can show you. What’s different about being Made that way is you don’t get the horns and you can Make other folks, just like the Begotten do. It’s time to do it again, Clyde. We’ve got someone specific in mind. She’s a lieutenant commander in the Israeli army by the name of Judith Margolies.”
TC024: “She’s very special, that one. We’ve been courting Judith for years but she never made the big jump. I think if you bring her here we can work together and talk her into it.”
“And if you think we’ll just give you what you want you are deluded.”
“Well, look, it’s the only way forward, Clyde, because we’re basically finished until Judith shows up. Between now and then is a lot of boring dead time, and as you found out with Gabe you should be very careful you don’t bore me to death.”